segunda-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2012

Valentine's day - Feb 14

What do you know about the history of Valentine's day? Things are not very clear, but here you have some information I've found on

The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine's Day--and the story of its patron saint--is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl--possibly his jailor's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and--most importantly--romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Origins of Valentine's Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial--which probably occurred around A.D. 270--others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat's hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine's Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”--at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine's Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine's Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap." Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
This day is all about the ones who we love, so let's enjoy it and celebrate. Not only with your prince or princess, but with your friends who are a great part of your life. Celebrate it with those who are special, tell them that you love them all!!!

domingo, 29 de janeiro de 2012

New York - part 1

Travelling is one of the best things in life.

That is what I love the most. So I’ve made up my mind!
This will be my subject for the next posts.

Let’s start with a desired destiny for those who are learning English: NEW YORK.

I have to be honest. I DO love big cities, but I’ve never felt like going there.

When I went there, I had one thing in mind: “It is a big city, I can find everything there, so it must be like São Paulo, I guess I will like it.”
I, myself, had planned everything, from the flights to the hotel, the Broadway show, the tour.
(If you don’t have much experience, I advise you to go to a travel agency, that way you will avoid having trouble) I did it because it is something I really enjoy, maybe one day I’ll have my own travel agency.

If you don’t know the city, read a lot before going if you are not going with a group. Even if you spend months researching, you won’t discover everything about the place. Don’t worry much about safety. Manhattan has got safer after the tragedy of 09/11/2001. There are cameras around the borough and undercover police officers. However, you need always to take care, wherever you are.
It might be interesting to take a tour bus if you won’t spend much time there. You can take those Hop-on/Hop-off buses. I only recommend if you can communicate well, when you decide to stop at an interest place and you need some information, you´ll have to ask people in the street, there won’t be a tourist guide with you. You can also take a traditional tour . The bus won’t stop so much, but if you are able to understand what the guide says, you will learn much more in this kind of tour than in any other tour. I’ve taken this one and it was good to be aware of some places, distance, and I could learn a lot about Manhattan.

A MUST do is going up to the observation deck of Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building. The view is breathtaking!  

View from The Top Of The Rock

@Radio City

Another is attending a Broadway musical. There are so many, for sure you will like at least one. The one I’ve been to is a seasonal show. Have you ever heard of “Christmas Spectacular”? It is more of a ballet, so you don’t need to know English to enjoy it, but for sure you Will understand it better IF you know more about their culture. As, for instance, they present the song 12 days of Christmas as tap dance. For those who have never heard of it, it gets a little bit out of context. And if you are not keen on waiting forever to buy your tickets (the lines can be huge) you can buy them in advance on the internet.

That is all for today!
I’ll write more in a few days, so you won’t get tired of reading it.

terça-feira, 6 de dezembro de 2011

Rolling in the Deep

My great student Thiago Martins wrote this great song review that I would like to share it with you:

Song Review – Rolling in the Deep

For the past few weeks, a really amazing song’s been setting on my mind, and I can’t seem to forget
it… The last time it happened, I ended up learning to play Firework…
It wasn’t me who came across it directly… It was a whole joint of coincidences… First I saw an Adele
album at my friend’s house… Then I watched I am Number Four (which I totally recommend by the way…)
and this song was played at a really badass moment… I simply couldn’t let it go off my mind anymore…
Then I started watching the song clip innumerous times… Searched for covers, and found two that were
particularly amazing…
Now, off to the song itself. It talks about a love of Adele which could have worked out pretty well,
but didn’t, probably because the guy let her down and disappointed… The song is wonderful, and its clip is
sensational… It’s a kind of blues mixed with a really nice-put drum beat and a perfect vocal, assisted by a
beautiful piano on the background…
By the end of the song, the watcher is delighted with the effects it brings, mainly if they’re watching
the clip… It is all quite meaningful…
The clip is simple and it really gets you ‘into’ the song… It was shot in an old house, with most of the
furniture covered with plastic... Adele sits in a chair and sings… Her drummer faces the wall while playing.
There’s a room filled with water glasses, which, as the drum beats start, begin to stir at the same rhythm…
There’s also a room filled with a white powder, and a ninja-like person keeps performing some kind of tribal
choreography with a sword, stirring the powder and creating mistiness. Apart from that, there’s also a
room with a maquette being burnt by fireworks. At the same time, someone hurls dishes at a wall in front
of a staircase.
For me, it’s a really well-thought and produced clip, where even with modesty you find something
fancy and classy…
The song itself has a really nice lyrics, which is highly improved by a choral singing between Adele’s
lines. I just know that I’m now addicted to this song… It messes with my feelings, in a way few songs
manage to…
The really nice covers I found are: – A classical and slowed-down cover, which I
simply loved… – A perfectly comical cover, with its lyrics really
fitting, even the little choral between “Adele”’s lines…
The original song:
Its lyrics:

There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark
Finally, I can see you crystal clear
Go ‘head and sell me out and I'll lay your ship bare

See how I leave with every piece of you
Don't underestimate the things that I will do
There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch and its bringing me out the dark

The scars of your love remind me of us
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
I can't help feeling

We could have had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

Baby, I have no story to be told
But I've heard one of you and I'm gonna make your head burn
Think of me in the depths of your despair
Making a home down there, as mine sure won't be shared

(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
The scars of your love remind me of us
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
The scars of your love, they leave me breathless
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
I can't help feeling

We could have had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

Could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside of your hand
But you played it with a beating

Throw your soul through every open door
Count your blessings to find what you look for
Turn my sorrow into treasured gold
You pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow

(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
We could have had it all
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
We could have had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
It all, it all, it all
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

We could have had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
And you played it to the beat
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

Could have had it all
(You're gonna wish you never had met me)
Rolling in the deep
(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)
You had my heart inside of your hand

But you played it
You played it
You played it
You played it to the beat

So, this is my review. Stay tuned to my reviews on songs, movies and the like… For this week, I
recommend Adele’s Rolling in the Deep , its two covers, and also the I Am Number Four movie and book.

sexta-feira, 18 de novembro de 2011

Vocabulary 1

Lady Gaga has sung in one of her songs "It's been a long time since I came around" and this sentece is also valid for me, Lady Gava.
I haven't been writing, but here I am with a list of vocabulary to help you out.

     1.    All finger and thumbs
2.    Anecdote
A short often funny story, especially about something someone has done
3.    Awkward
Difficult, embarrassing or inconvenient
4.    Blunt
Honest, even if it means upsetting people
    5.    Burst into tears
To suddenly  cry
6.    Burst out laughing
To suddenly  laugh
    7.    Butterflies in the stomach
To feel very nervous, usually about something you are going to do
8.    Crass
Without considering how other people might feel; stupid
9.    Cross
Angry or annoyed
     10. Cultural clash
Misunderstandings, and disagreements between different cultures
11. Delighted
Very pleased and happy
12. Dodgy
Not honest, not reliable
 13. Earth-shattering
Extremely important or very surprising
   14. Flabbergasted
To be in a state of confusion or surprise
15. Giggle
A quiet laugh
16. Goods
Things produced in order to be sold
17. Hair-raising
Very frightening
18. Heart-rending
Causing great sympathy or sadness
19. Ins and outs
20. Laugh my head off
To laugh very noisily and for a long time
21. Let down
Disappointed by something or someone
22. Mouth-watering
Describes food that looks as if it will taste good
23. No laughing matter
To laugh very noisily and for a long time
24. Non-p.c. joke
A funny story which may offend people
25. Opinionated
It describes someone who is certain about what they think and believe, and who expresses their ideas strongly and often
26. Out of this world
27. Overjoyed
Extremely happy
28. Pun
A humorous use of a word or phrase which has several meanings or which sounds like another word
29. Relieved
Happy that something unpleasant has not happened or has ended
30. Shattered
To break into a million pieces, fragments
31. Straight face
A serious expression on your face that you use when you do not want someone to know that you think something is funny
32. Swear
To use offensive words
33. The penny drops
You suddenly understand something
34. To make light of it
To treat something as if it were unimportant or humorous
35. To put your foot in it
To do or say something embarrassing and
tactless or get yourself into trouble
36. To turn a blind eye
To  ignore something that you know is wrong
37. Up to my neck
Deeply involved
38. Worldwide
Appearing or occurring everywhere in the world
39. Yawn
To open your mouth wide because you are tired or bored